Netflix reveals people’s first-world problems

Read Netflix’s blog post about the change in their service rates!

It has only been a day, but there is a large outcry over the fact that Netflix plans to introduce new subscriptions and change the rates of their old subscriptions. The biggest news is that people have the choice of having only one DVD out at a time for $8 or just stream online for $8. To combine the two plans is roughly $16 a month. That currently costs about $10 a month, so I guess there’s a little room for complaint.

But only a little. Netflix has been offering an amazing service for years now, and their move toward offering unlimited streaming content has definitely proven them superior to their competition. If you ask me, you really don’t need a DVD plan when you have streaming capability. The amount of quality content is incomparable, despite the absence of new releases and select titles by publishers. I’m still amazed by the fact that Better Off Ted‘s second season is available for streaming despite the fact that a DVD set has yet to see the light of day. This probably speaks highly of the direction in which Netflix is heading.

A couple months ago I came across an article on NewTeeVee discussing Netflix’s plans to extend the lives of shows on the chopping block. This suggests a serious focus on their streaming service as more than just an amenity for people renting DVDs. Netflix is essentially becoming its own network, free from the binds of advertisers and Nielsen ratings. Separating the revenue streams from streaming and DVDs is a great way to provide transparency during this move, not to mention the whole thing recognizes the value of the service. After all, if I only get one DVD out at a time, that means I can only really manage to watch 10 DVDs in the average month if I watch and send back titles immediately. Meanwhile, there is no temporal limitation on the number of streamed titles I can watch. Not to mention the fact that if the titles stay online for at least a year, it’s almost as good as owning the titles.

My attitude toward the shift is a lot more positive than many folks. If you scrolled down through the comments on the linked Netflix blog, you’ll see many people saying they can’t afford both and that Netflix has lost customers. Check out the same thing on the Consumerist and Lifehacker. The only good argument is that Netflix is charging customers more for a service they previously undervalued. Beyond that people are showing just how entitled they are. While $6 adds up to an additional $72 a year, acting like a business betrayed you by doing something completely in their rights just tells me how petty you are. Netflix has the right to change the pricing plan, and customers have the right to continue or discontinue their services. That’s the breakdown. All the whining and self-centered complaints are just childish.

It took a lot guts for Netflix to even suggest the pricing change, especially knowing how immature the public at large can be. I congratulate everyone who takes risks. In my household we have switched to streaming only in order to continue supporting Netflix. We have roughly 100 titles in our Instant Watch queue, with more added almost daily by me. Separating the plans makes perfect sense to me, since the DVDs generally sat by the DVD player…unwatched for weeks on end. I know my situation isn’t the same as other folks’. I’m just sharing that the change is far from universally unreasonable.

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About Gospel X

I am a major mediaphile as well as a social researcher. My ultimate belief is that the media can be used to teach children prosocial behaviors and teach adults how to access paradigms. And I think that Mega Man is an amazing example of proteanism. Add me on Google : https://plus.google.com/u/0/113795848855477334599

Posted on July 14, 2011, in business and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Man. I filter my BACN (new word for — means daily/auto sent type of emails). Somehow the Netflix change in service email got filtered too. I learned of this from the outrage.

    My gut reaction is… Sucks. Looks like Netflix is becoming more corporate. Or maybe my gut is stupid, its definitely shortsighted.

    I’m probably going to save money, by moving to a cheaper plan. I won’t have to mail anything. Easier. Less clutter in my life. I’m starting to wonder if I should even sell the DVD collection I have… I can stream most of it at any time already. Our services are becoming more lean, more tuned for individualistic use cases. I’m not sure if Netflix supports enough of its catalog for me to drop mail-discs quite yet. But I surely don’t need three at a time. And why shouldn’t I drop the mail in discs all together soon? I dropped paying $100/ mo for cable and internet a few years ago… I don’t miss TV at all. I get my content from a series of tubes.

    The Internet is the People’s Medium. I can’t give that up. Until I can get a solid 5 – 10 Mbps on a mobile plan. I’d guess in a decade home connections will start dwindling. Endpoints will be personalized and mobile. [Think how scary that could be if you’re getting snooped].

    As for Netflix’s plan of content creation/ extension? Brilliant. That feels like intelligent corporate Smack-Fu. Netflix and other content providers should be thinking about investing in content delivery infrastructure systems [and network neutrality].

    • I absolutely agree with you. Even though this seems like an ugly move for Netflix to make, their aim is true. DVD rental is becoming passe because who wants to deal with the clutter that is something temporary in your home? Plus most people just watch the main feature, none of the extra content on discs. An on-demand service that lets you get right to what you want to see is clearly more reasonable. DVDs themselves are better off relegated to a collector’s market. I’ve considered selling off my DVD collection, but I like looking at the additional content on the shows and movies I deeply enjoy.

      Anyway, I like this move. Plus by moving to the streaming only plan, we removed two whole dollars from our monthly subscription fee!

  2. Agreed. One of the reasons to keep my DVD collection, which is bountiful in quality — not quantity. I can loan Spirited Away or Arrested Development to friends and colleagues that haven’t heard or had them or had the time to watch ’em. Lastly, guests (in addition to Sandy and myself) can look at our awesome taste in film and television.

    I’m curious, has there been a psych study that looks at happiness in relationship to owning “things” vs. the uncluttered/unencumbered lifestyle?

    • No, I don’t think there’s been a study focused on those two lifestyle choices, especially since the most difficult part would be defining the terms. There are people who own things that they enjoy, and then there are collectors who own quite a bit beyond just what they enjoy. Then there are hoarders. On the other hand, there is a term for people who live a more uncluttered, simple life. I forgot what it was, but those people are difficult to find as well. And then the most difficult part of such a study is what definition for happiness will you be using?

      That discussion is better off on a theoretical and philosophical level. It would be a truly unpopular discussion to have here in the US, given that we are pretty much the founding fathers of capitalism. We created the notion that happiness is an alcoholic beverage, 2.5 children, two cars, big houses, etc. My immediate thought is that striking a balance is the best way to go, but this is partially because I haven’t been able to deprogram myself from wanting things. As you know, I love my collections of games, books, movies, and Starscreams.

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